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Can A Work Accident Lead To Psychiatric Damage And Even Suicide?

If you are involved in an accident at work, the last thing you are likely to think about is that the accident will lead to suicide. However, that is exactly what happened in the case of Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd.

Mr Corr worked on a car parts production line and suffered a serious injury when he was hit on the side of the head by an automated robot arm. The extent of the injury was so severe that he was almost decapitated and his right ear was severed.

The injury lead to post traumatic stress disorder and depression and subsequently six years after the accident he committed suicide. His wife continued his claim for compensation as the executrix of his estate.

One of the key questions that arose was whether the defendant's negligence, i.e. causing the accident at the workplace, could be said to have led to the suicide. In English Law it must clearly be shown that the negligence causes each of the injuries sustained. In this case, it is possible to see that the courts could have said that the suicide was a voluntary act by Mr Corr which was not linked to the accident as it was not foreseeable that a work injury would lead to his suicide.

However, in this case evidence was presented to the court that showed that 10% of severely depressed people attempt to commit suicide and as it was accepted that Mr Corr's depression was caused by the accident his suicide was a direct result of it too.

It is rare for work accident claims to lead to suicide, but the English legal system is designed to protect accident victims (and their families) and clearly on this occasion was able to do just that.

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